We all get busy with our lives and often forget that we need to take care of ourselves on a regular basis. By caring for both mind and body, we are better able to handle stress and cope with different life events. This is especially true at busy times of the year, or when things become overwhelming.

There are several basic areas that are important to remember in the focus on self-care. An easy way to remember this is to think of yourself as a table with four legs, with each leg representing a different aspect of positive mental and physical health.

The first leg is nutrition – eating regular balanced meals promotes healthy brain function. Nutritional deficiencies are connected to impaired cognitive functioning, which makes it difficult to manage thoughts and emotions on a daily basis.

The second leg is sleep – lack of sleep also affects cognition and alters mood. Chronic sleep problems can make you feel anxious, irritable, or depressed. Other symptoms are memory problems and having problems with concentration.

The third leg is exercise – regular physical activity helps to prevent a wide range of health conditions, improves mood, relieves stress, controls weight, and increases energy levels.

The fourth leg is support system – maintaining regular contact with supportive people helps to manage stress, and encourages the expression of thoughts and feelings. This assists to improve mood and reminds us that we are not alone with our difficulties.

When we are not “standing” on all four legs, we are off balance and unhealthy. It’s important to remember that we need to take care of ourselves on a regular basis, in order to achieve optimal health and happiness.